Sunday, September 23, 2012


So, on my way out of town tonight (visiting my hometown and returning to new home) I saw a sunflower sign that advertised "Retirement sale - Alpacas, Fiber, Yarn" and so I couldn't help but turn in to the driveway.

They had yarn, fleece and animals for sale.  I was able to buy two skeins of 100% black Suri alpaca wool and 2 1/2 pounds of fleece.

They showed me their $38,000 scarf - the most expensive scarf in the world - knitted from their first year's shearing...

LOL.  Sorry to hear it, but weren't alpacas a get-rich-quick scheme a few years ago?

Third Coast Fiber Festival

This was a multi-day festival, but I only had Saturday to visit..  I attended a class on drop-spindle spinning in the morning and a class called "Tapas" by Candice Eisner-Strick in the afternoon. 
Both were well worth the fee. 

I learned that the spindle I received in the "lot" when I purchased my new-to-me, but gently used, LeClerc 4-harness loom was a "plying spindle" that should only be used to ply, because the heft of it was too great to allow single-ply yarns.

I purchased the smaller and lighter drop spindle supplied with the course.

I find that my spinning wheel is far more efficient than drop-spindle spinning, so fear I will only use  it for demonstrations. 

The class in the afternoon discussed many "small bites" of things that knitters might find useful.  The most useful to me was the method of alternate left/right increases by yarnover on one row and twisted stitches on the next.

I ripped the socks I had already started on two circulars back to the beginning.  This new method makes infinitely more sense to me.  By making 1/2 the increase on the first row, and the 2nd half of the increase on the second row, you never lose track of where you are on rows of alternate increases.  Since I feared I had increased on "every row" a few times, the toes of these socks were starting to look very lumpy, so I am thankful to have a method that automatically checks my increases. 

I also liked the butterfly stitch.  Looking forward to adapting it on the machine.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

How much yarn?

I've posted this previously on another space but it's worth re-posting here as I am afraid it may be lost in the shuffle of new email addresses and web pages.

To make a sweater,

How much yarn to buy?


How much yarn do you buy to knit a sweater? I guess the answer is really pretty simple: or maybe not. If you're in the store, and you see a yarn you absolutely have to have, buy at least a dozen skeins. That's the simple answer. The complicated one is buy pretty close to what you need. I've compiled the information below from a lot of different sources and they didn't all agree. I've tried to even out the numbers so they make sense. So if your knitting pattern calls for a particular yarn or a particular number of skeins, please use it as the primary source for determining how much yarn to buy. It always pays to buy 10 percent more than you think you will need. You can always knit a hat or mittens or socks with the leftovers. But, if you run out on the left sleeve, you're in trouble!
Number of yards given is for a long-sleeved sweater. You can subtract 10 percent for short sleeves or 20% for sleeveless. Please note for special yarns like chenille or mohair, the length will be much greater per lb because of their great loftiness.
The cardinal rule is - ALWAYS make a swatch! The numbers given are a rule of thumb. Variations can occur due to humidity, tension, type of yarn, and a hundred other factors.

Approximate Gauge 4" 32+ s x 24 - 32s x 20-24s x 16 - 20s x 26 r 12-16s x 8-12s x
Needle Size 00-2 2-4 4-6 7-9 10-10 1/2 14-15
Cotton approx yds/lb 4200 2100 1260 840
Cotton 10/2 5/2 3/2 2/2 or 1/1
Wool approx yds/lb 6720 2800 1200-1800 1020 560 300
worsted(wool,acrylic) 1/13 or 2/24 2/13 , 3/15 , 1/5.5 2/7.5, 3/11 , 1/3.5 3/6.4 , 4/8, 1/2 3/4 , 1/1 1/.5
Shetland Cobweb Lace Weight Jumper Weight 3 Ply yarn 4 Ply yarn Chunky
Handknitting Baby Fingering Sport Worsted Bulky, Aran Very Bulky, Icelandic
Infant 600 500 400 300
Toddler 800 700 600 500 400 350
6-8 1250 1100 950 800 700 550
10-12 1300 1200 1100 950 800 700
Teen 1400 1300 1200 1000 900 800
S 1600 1400 1300 1050 950 900
M 1800 1600 1400 1200 1000 950
L 2000 1800 1600 1400 1200 1000
XL 2000 1800 1600 1400 1200
XXL or man's 2000 1800 1600 1400

Sunday, September 16, 2012

New/old group

I've joined a machine knitters group in Metro Detroit area.  I'm not sure if it has a name!  There were six ladies, including me, at the meeting on Saturday.  This is a splinter group from a previous Southfield, MI group that is no longer active.  Meetings 3rd Saturday of every month.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Nintendo Entertainment System Knitting Machine?

Since the knitting machine in the photo is making plain stockinette, why on earth would you need the NES to "power" it? Can't see the KM logo, it looks like the brother plastic bed machine or the bond ultimate knitting machine - These machines don't offer patterning!

I wonder if it might have sold had it had a more enthusiastic demonstrator. Maybe the target market shouldn't have been a toy store?

Go to article

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Interesting news from Cornell University, they are simulating knitting in computer graphics. Think of the possibilities for pattern designs!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Wolcott Mill Demo

I demonstrated Kool-Aid dyeing of sock blanks today at Wolcott Mill.  The visitors were either very interested or very polite. 

I took my punchcard standard gauge machine and demonstrated it.  Most people had never seen one before.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

At the grocery store magazine rack, I was perusing a few of the sewing magazines. I noticed several had articles this month about "sweater knits", suggesting that the reader go to a thrift store and find a sweater to upcycle and embellish with bias trim and other fabric additions.

I wondered why we couldn't just knit yardage instead of searching for a sweater in thrift shop, then use the same techniques.

Since I don't know how many knitters either read or subscribe to sewing magazines, I thought perhaps I should share.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I joined a knit club tonight in Richmond, Michigan at the Sew Together quilt shop.  What a delightful group of ladies!  I am looking forward to the next meeting. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Harvest and Corn Days

I will be demonstrating spinning, machine knitting, and possibly dyeing with natural dyes, at the Wolcott Mill Farm Park Metropark in Ray Township, MI on August 25 and 26.  Please stop by and visit if you are in the area.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

September Seminar planned

GRAMKC (Grand Rapids Area Machine Knitting Club) is considering a members-only seminar in September.  If you would like to be a part of this, see the information on their web site.  They accept members from outside the local area. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monroe Seminar

Just back from the Monroe, Michigan Machine knitting seminar this weekend. What a fabulous time!  Demonstrators for 2012 were Marcia Hauser and Teena Crawshaw. 

Marcia demonstrated techniques for making jewelry with fine-gauge wire, and also techniques for knitting beads into your normal knitting.  She threw so many hints and tips out during her demonstration I am sure I did not catch them all.  Marcia emphasized that "there are no rules", the machine is just a tool and your brain is the source of the ideas.  She shared techniques for  several beautiful garments made from woven (on the machine using knitweaving, of course) fabrics,  some techniques for edgings including fringe on pie crust and other techniques for simulated crochet shrugs.  She brought displays of three-dimensional trims and rag knitting.

Teena used her time with us to give us the basics of calculating the stitch and row requirements for making garments from geometric shapes in any size and any gauge.  She shared the formulas she uses to calculate a garment made from rectangles, like a bog jacket; and several beautiful circular sweaters and vests with shawl collars and ruffled peplums.  The placement of the arm holes within the circle determines the relative length of the collar and the peplum. 

A bog jacket is a traditional shaped jacket that originally was made on a weaving loom. You may remember Elizabeth Zimmerman's "percentage system" for calculating the dimensions of the bog jacket.  The article in the link shows how it can be made from a piece of 45" fabric with little or no waste. Here is another example with pattern from a quilting community.   Teena's knitted adaptation requires two pieces of  knitted fabric, the sleeves being the  one piece and the lower back the other. Because the pieces are separated, the knitter is free to make adjustments as needed for sizing or just styling, and to knit the pieces in any direction.

 Teena's long flowing electric blue lace vest was striking, and emphasized her long, lean shape.  I was surprised when she mentioned she was only 5'7", only 3 inches taller than me.  I would have guess she was a model over six feet tall just from the visual impact of the vest.  Her style is engaging and we were all fascinated by the "math class".

Many, many thanks to Cathy Reaume for organizing this event every year.  Food was wonderful, as usual, and the door prizes were quite varied.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

 Dyeing day...

First, knit the blank using two strands of sock yarn. I used a Brother 864 and tension 10++ in plain stockinette. 100 stitches wide and about 2 feet long. I did this knitting while demonstrating hand-spinning and  machine knitting at Wolcott Farms during their sheep-shearing day. 

  I wanted enough to make at least two socks.  I used a weaving cast on and to take the blank off the machine, I rain the yarn tail through the stitches one by one. The resulting fabric was a little heavy and the stitches tight.  Had I had a bulky available at the time of knitting, I would have used that. 

Next, mordant the yarn using vinegar/water.  Use a stainless steel pot (dedicated to dyeing, do not use for food afterwards!)  Set the heat on medium and gradually bring the pot up to a slow simmer so as not to felt the yarn.

 While the yarn is heating in the mordant, prepare the work surface.  I used several sheets of newspaper under several sheets of plastic wrap. 

I should have used more newspaper and more plastic wrap, or possible get a painter's plastic tarp cut to size to eliminate the gaps between two sheets of plastic wrap.

 When the yarn has been simmering for an hour or so, it is time to take it out and lay flat. I used a bamboo spatula to remove the knitted blank from the dyepot.

Lay the blank flat on the prepared work surface, smoothing out any curls at the edges as much as possible.

Mix the dye powder (I used Jacquard iDye, found on clearance sale at Michael's)  with vinegar/water.  I used empty spice bottles this time.  Next time I will use plastic condiment bottles from Gordon Foods.  I realized toward the end of the project that this dye is packaged in a bio-degradeable plastic that dissolves when it gets wet.  That is why it says "NO MESS" on the package.  Silly me!  This means that I could have simply placed the entire package in the bottle then added the vinegar/water mixture.  
Apply the dye to the knitted panel in color blocks. This was so much fun, yet hectic, I forgot to stop and take a picture.  I applied the colors with a little space between in order to allow for "melding" of the colors.  Then wrapped up the knitted blank in the plastic wrap.

The package ready for microwaving (I had an unplanned-for leak.)  Next time will use a plastic bag? Clean up any spills right away unless you want a multi-colored countertop.  I used a magic sponge which worked phenomenally to pick up all the pigment from my white counter top.   After microwaving, rinse. Be careful, the wool and steam of the microwave can cause burns.   The color is a lot lighter than it looked prior to rinsing.  Hang or lay flat to dry in the sun.

After the yarn is dry, unravel it.  Skein the yarn, winding it onto a niddy noddy (shown here) or a ball.  Actually I did both at the same time, since I only have one niddy-noddy and I had two strands of yarn. 

Here is the final product.  Well, it won't really be final until the socks are knitted.  But I love the colors.  At work the next day, I realized that the colors are almost exactly the same as the Mary Engelbreit calendar art for May 2012 in the calendar over my desk.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Just returned from the GRAMKC Spring Workshop, as usual it was awesome and inspiring day with Sandee Cheree and Charlene Schafer.   I could only do one day this year because tomorrow I am demonstrating spinning wool into yarn at Wolcott Mill Metropark.  I'm staying up late packing the car.  I got some new shelving units that hopefully make a nice display, and I'm printing labels for the yarn cones I had spun.  Hopefully it will be a tempting display!

It was a challenging morning.  I drove through Flint, Michigan on the way to Grand Rapids and found that I-69 was closed due to flooding- because they had 6 inches of rain last night.  I spent an hour and a half driving around Flint trying to find a way to get back on the highway that wasn't flooded in a low-lying area.  I was disappointed to miss half the morning class.  I feel so sorry for those Flint people, I passed what looked like a lot of flooded basements.

 I've got a little bit of a head cold and my voice is a little rough.  I discovered  this YouTube video  on sock blank dyeing, and thought it might be a good way to save my voice tomorrow, so I asked for electricity for the laptop.  Unfortunately. I  just now realized that I don't have a good way to save a YouTube video to my PC, so if wireless connection to the internet is not available, I won't be able to play it anyway.  Too late to call and check tonight!

Friday, February 24, 2012

GRAMKC Spring Workshop

I received my signup sheet for the Spring Workshop from Grand Rapids Area Machine Knitter's club.  Sandee Cherry and Charlene Shafer will be demonstrating at the two-day session on Friday and Saturday May 4-5 in Byron Center, MI. Note the new location this year, at First Reformed Church.

 If you are interested contact